It will seem like old times on Friday, when the 1930s-era Richey Suncoast Theatre hosts a double feature: the second annual Thomas Meighan Film Festival and the 32nd annual Black Maria (pronounced Muh-rye-uh) Film + Video Festival.
This is the fourth year in a row that internationally renowned Black Maria has made a stop at the former Thomas Meighan theater on Grand Boulevard, thanks to founders Robert Mateja, Deborah Pentivolpi, Marie Skelton and the late Charlie Skelton. It arrived just as a total makeover of the inside and outside of the theater had been completed. Black Maria executives were wowed by the art deco design and vowed to make the refurbished theater one of its annual stops.
The evening will feature 14 short films by independent filmmakers from around the world, as well as by two local film/video makers, Bobby Marinelli of Hudson and Andrew Fisher of New Port Richey. Hundreds of films were submitted, and a jury of professional film and video makers chose about 60 to tour throughout the United States. Local sponsors decide which films they think would be most appropriate for their audiences.
Black Maria is named for the first motion picture studio built by Thomas Edison in 1893 in New Jersey. The tar paper and wood contraption rotated on a large turntable so that its roof could be opened up to let the sun shine on the subject being photographed. Neighbors thought the building looked like the old police wagons that were called Black Marias, thus the nickname for Edison's structure.
The nonprofit festival started in 1981 at New Jersey City University in Jersey City, N.J., and now tours 65 cities in 20 states, stopping at colleges, universities, museums, art schools, performing arts centers and theaters. The films run from one minute to no more than 59 minutes, with most less than 20 minutes.
Among the award-winning films coming to Richey Suncoast:
Feral (13 minutes) by Daniel Sousa, Pawtucket, R.I.: An animated parable in silhouetted images. A feral boy is "liberated" by a hunter and taken to "civilization," but will he stay there?
Bug People (15 minutes) by Paul Meyers, San Francisco: A whimsical film essay regarding western cultural biases against bugs, never mind that they're a wonderful source of protein.
There's a Dead Crow Outside (1 minute) by Morgan Miller, Brooklyn, N.Y.: Who gets there first? The buzzing flies or the hungry raccoon?
Reborning (7.5 minutes) by Helen Hood Scheer, Palo Alto, Calif.: Documentary about a woman who makes life-like infant dolls.
Gun (17.5 minutes) by Spencer Gillis, West Orange, N.J.: A home invader prompts a man to buy a gun — but then what?
Fanfare for Marching Band (15.5 minutes) by Daniele Wilmouth, Chicago: A music and dance film with choreography by Peter Carpenter performed by the circus punk marching band Mucca Pazza.
Lionfish Delusion (4 minutes) by Quique Rivera Rivera, San Juan, Puerto Rico: Underwater animation inspired by the Lionfish plague in the Caribbean reefs.